Greg takes a breather on the 'H' on the border of Northumberland and CumbriaThe trail riding is great in Northumbria. The Northumbria TRF group is very active, and very welcoming, the average age somewhat lower, I imagine, than the national average. The only thing I don’t like about Northumbria lanes is the amount of bloody ruts! But we are heading in the right direction i.e. to Cumbria! The locals cope far better than me with ruts, barely seeming to notice them. It’s wet and muddy, and bloody slippery. The thought of the several river crossings ahead of us cause a modicum of concern. We come across a ‘big bike’ group who are part of the of the Haggs Bank weekend. They are coping well in the mud on some diverse machinery. One brave chap has ridden from Surrey on his 640 KTM, and will ride back to Surrey after today’s trail ride.
Who needs a drone?
Greg, Davy and Clive feeling a little damp on the Old Coach Road in Cumbria“Actually I’m tempted to get the kite out again.” “We’ll see you there Greg.” I had assumed we would be wild camping on top of a fell somewhere and packed my stove, Spork and Be-Well Expedition packs for tea (that’s northern for ‘supper’ for you posh southern folk) and breakfast. No need. We are spending the night in Noel’s field! Brilliant, if cheating slightly. By the time we arrive the tarp is up in a beautiful spot, 5 feet away from the river, the fire is roaring, the beer is cold and the Rayburn is available for clothes drying duties. “Sorry lads, just one more shot of everybody arriving...” Noel has prepared a BBQ feast, with salad. Salad! Salad? And cold beer. It’s been a cold, wet, long day. We have spent about 11 hours on the road, but it’s been fantastic. The beer, the fire and the gorgeous surroundings make for an excellent evening of laughs and tall tales, with only sporadic camera in your face moments.
After three years of trail riding Davy finally learns how to fix a punctureThe first trail on Sunday is the fantastic Breast High Pass, titter-ye-not! Two river crossings, steep, rocky and twisty, one of the best mountain passes in the UK without doubt, as long as you don’t mind riding for the rest of the day with wet feet. After Breast High we are heading towards the Dales and onto unfamiliar territory for me. I live between the Lakes and the Dales, but we seem to spend most of our time riding in the Lakes and hardly ever head into the Dales. The Lakes are great riding, but the Dales are fantastic too. Perhaps not as technically challenging but there are some great flowing long lanes. I am fairly certain we only saw one group of walkers all day. I’ll be back. Lunch is had in the biker enclave of Hawes. The weather couldn’t be more different to yesterday. It’s dry, the sun is out and the roads are heavy with two wheeled joy. All of the biker tribes are represented in Hawes, but we are by far and away the muddiest. Sports bikes are still the most common here, but there is an increasing number of adventure styled machines. It’s just a matter of time until they realise that trail riding is the most fun you can have on 2 wheels, apart from the Wall of Death and Speedway obviously. We’re not wanting to waste too much time today, we have a lot of miles to do and us Cumbrian’s have a 100 mile drive in the van back from Newcastle. Today is everything good about trail riding. “These are the days that must happen to you.” If you haven’t read Dan Walsh’s book of that name, I can thoroughly recommend it. He’d be in my top 10 list of people to go trail riding with; Barry Sheene, Steve McQueen, Hunter S Thompson, Bob Dylan... and obviously those currently present, it would probably go horribly right. The weather is perfect, the scenery immaculate, the company excellent and the riding great. More filming, more punctures, and a broken chain can’t spoil a perfect day and a perfect weekend. Let’s do it again soon, as soon as we can get another Weekend Pass.